From the desk of…
by Susan Harfoot, Lt. Colonel –
New to the USA Western Territorial Headquarters, I was recently asked, “Has the dust settled yet?” Since I grew up in a household where dust was not tolerated and Saturday was always cleaning day, I was stopped in my tracks. Dust? Settling? Where? There was no implication that my office would soon be inspected with a white glove. Nor was the inquirer asking if my house was “Spic and Span” ready for company. The employee simply wanted to know if my personal life was settling into a new place, with new surroundings, new responsibilities, and new routine. It was a question of comfort and familiarity.
I have lived in places where it was a challenge to keep the “dust down.” In Nebraska our house was not far from a cornfield. When the wind blew, the dust would quickly find its way into the house. When traveling the highways during harvest time in the Great Plains states, we would often see huge clouds of dust created by the combine machinery. Often the dust produced by the farmers obstructed our way.
Dust does tend to settle and there are times when a good house cleaning is needed. It’s a fact of life. The busy-ness of ministry, travel, and sometimes a lack of motivation keep “dusting” at the bottom of my priority list. Dust tends to make me sneeze. There have been times when a helpful soul has written a message or two on the dirty dusty windows of my car. It gets my attention.
Genesis 3:19 tell us “for dust you are and to dust you will return.” The settling of dust has a connotation of finality. When the dust settles, it’s over. In this sense, when the dust settles it’s too late. I don’t want the dust to settle just yet; there is too much living to do.
Jesus wrote in the dust (dirt) twice in John 8. The religious leaders were trying to find fault with him and they questioned his authority. Jesus used the dust as his writing tablet. When he finished writing, he looked up and the accusers were gone. What did he write? We don’t know, but it was effective.
In the New Testament the disciples were instructed to shake the dust off their shoes in places where the gospel was rejected and disregarded. Sometimes a good dusting off is needed and there is a need to move on.
My favorite “dust” reference is found in I Timothy 4. The Apostle Paul wrote an instructive passage with wise counsel to young, impressionable Timothy as he prepares for ministry. The advice given is for every believer to keep your life clean—holy and “dust-free.”
The Message Bible says: “Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.”
This is good instruction for “dust free” living. Has the dust settled? Dust can quickly turn to mud if rains of adversity come. We might find ourselves stuck in mud. I don’t ever want the dust to settle under my feet and find I’m stuck in an unhealthy, unproductive situation or attitude. I would not want dust turned to mud to hold me back in my spiritual walk with God.
“Dusting” calls for a Christian demeanor, love, faith and integrity. “Dusting” calls for a need to be grounded in the scriptures. “Dusting” demands the use of spiritual gifts. I’m not ready for the dust to settle—life is not over. I’m looking for a clean and active life of love and service. I intend to do as the song writer advises: “Pick myself up, brush myself off, and start all over again” each day with a prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!”